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And see the shepherds feed their flocks
Then live with me and be my love.' What are the marked characteristics of this drama, now advanced to the point from which Shakespeare will rise supreme heights of poetry ? - Tamburlaine, the first play in blank verse which was publicly acted, drove the rhymed couplet from the stage, and fixed forever the metre of English tragedy as blank. Not only did the author popularize the measure, but he perfected it: he created a new metre by the melody, variety, and force which he infused into the iambic; not a fixed, unalterable type, in which the verse moves to the common and despotic beat of time, but a Proteus, whose varying pauses, speed, and grouping of syllables make one measure represent a thousand. It flows impetuous and many-colored, like the spirit which feels it—not studies it — and revels in a stream of images. Consider the didactic dignity of the following:
Our souls whose faculties can comprehend
The sweet fruition of an earthly crown.' Or the variable modulations of these lines - in particular, the daring but successful license of the first and third:
Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
Or the changeful temper, the 'plastic stress' of these:
Mortimer! who talks of Mortimer,
O, never more lift up this dying heart!'
* Tyrants swim safest in a crimson flood.'
• Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head.'
Not inaptly has a living poet described Marlowe as singing
. With mouth of gold, and morning in his cyes.' For this is his contribution to the heroic style,- that he found it insipidly regular, and left it various, sometimes redundant, sometimes deficient, enriched with unexpected emphases and changes in the beat. Shakespeare will only refine it from wordiness, and use it with more than Marlowe's versatility and power.
Our first tragedy and comedy observed the classical or dramatic unities: Unity of Action, which required that the action represented should be one, complete, and important; Unity of Time, which required that the incidents of the play should naturally occur within one day; Unity of Place, which required that the entire action should naturally occur in the same locality. The Greek drama, relying thus upon form or proportion, owed its charm to a certain union and regularity of feeling. In its sphere, it spoke, felt, and acted according to nature — that is, nature under the given circumstances; but it was limited by the physical conditions of time and space, as well as bound to a certain dignity and attitude of expression, selection and grouping of figures, as in a statue. But this was too formal and stately to suit the tastes and wants of an age or people distinguished by its novelty, strangeness, and contrast. The whole framework of society --customs, manners, aspirations, religion -- had changed.
Hence a sudden revolution in the dramatic art. Our poets, who felt the excitement of the new life, disdained paths previously made, scorned the thraldom of Greece, the servility of Rome. They had to address no scholastic critics, but the people. As one of them said,
• They would have good plays, and not produce
With clothes in fashion, To win a mutable attention required a multiform shape. At once they clung to the human nature before them,— its appetites, passions, frailties, hopes, imaginations, heights of ecstasy and depths of depravity. The theatre, mingling the comic with the tragic, was to be a mirror of enchantment,— Gothic in the scope of its design and the boldness of its execution. While Italy and France were adhering to the contracted antique model, two nations - England and Spain - were thus spontaneously creating a national drama accordant with their own sympathies and experiences - a movable reflection of themselves.
Prose.—The poetry of the period, as the overflow of natural enthusiasm, has a decided ascendancy in quantity and quality; but the powerful vitality which impels it and makes it great, begins also the era of prose.
The insatiable desire of the mind to beget its own image gives the primary impulse. The reformation of religion, the revival of antiquity, the influx of Italian letters, traditions of the past, speculations of the future, invention, travel, and discovery, give the materials. Philology begins, notably with Cheke and Mulcaster; artistic theory and criticism, with Sidney, Wilson, Ascham, and Puttenham, who explore the rules of style; narratives of adventure and observation, with Hakluyt'; history, with Holinshed, More, and Raleigh; the essay, with Lord Bacon; rational theology, with Hooker; romantic or fanciful fiction, with Lily. In physics, medicine, and law, curiosity is rife. Editions and revisals of the Scriptures increased. The roar and dash of opinions creates and multiplies pamphleteers, Anglican and Puritan, sectarian and secular,- Skelton a virulent one, Roy a merciless
Greene an incessant one, Nash a brilliant one. Men's brains are busy, their * The Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries made by the English Nation.
spirits stirring, their hearts full. With the new resources of thought and language, comes a new sense of literary beauty new-born pleasure in delicacy and grandeur of phrase, in the choice of words and the structure of sentences. We see it first in Lily's Euphues,' the story of a young Athenian who, after spending some time in Italy, visits England in 1579. Its form is Italian, and its style a skilful elaboration of the Italian taste for alliteration, verbal antithesis, far-fetched allusion. To ladies and lords, it was a novel enchantment to read:
There is no privilege that needeth a pardon, neither is there any remission to be asked, where a commission is granted. I speake this, Gentlemen, not to excuse the offence which was taken, but to offer a defence where I was mistaken. A cleare conscience is a sure card, truth hath the prerogative to speake with plainnesse, and the modesty to heare with patience. It was reported of some, and beleuced of many, that in the education of Ephoebus, where mention is made of l'niuersities, that Oxford was to much either defaced or defamed. I know not what the enuous have picked ont by malice, or the curions by wit, or the guilty by their own galled consciences; but this I say, that I was as farre from thinking all as I find them from iudging well. But if I should goe about to make amends, I were then faulty in somewhat amisse, and should shew my selfe like Apelles Prentice, who coucting to mend the nose marred the neck; and not ynlike the foolish Dicr, who neuer thought his cloth black vntil it was burned. If any fault be committed, impute it to Euphues who knew you not, not to Lylie who hates you not,' Once more in Athens, Euphues writes:
Gentlemen, Euphues is musing in the bottom of the mountain Şilixedra, Philantus is married in the Isle of England: two friends parted, the one living in the delights of his new wife, the other in contemplation of his old griefs.' The new fashion, universally admired, ran into extravagance without elegance, overloaded, strained, and motley. Stanihurst in the dedication of a history of Ireland writes, quaintly and ludicrously:
My verie good Lord, there have beene diuerse of late, that with no small toile, and great commendation, haue throughlie imploied themselues in culling and packing togither the scrapings and fragments of the historie of Ireland. Among which crue, my fast friend, and inward companion, maister Edmund Campion did so learnedlie bequite himselfe, in the penning of certeine breefe notes, concerning that countrie, as certes it was greatlie to be lamented, that either his theame had not beene shorter, or else bis leasure had not beene longer. For if Alexander were so ranisht with Homer his historie, that notwithstanding Thersites were a crabbed and a rugged dwarfe, being in outward feature so deformed, and inward conditions so crooked, as he seemed to stand to no better steed, than to lead apes in hell.' There was just time for Gosson to have read Euphues before he wrote in The School of Abuse :
* The title of my book doth promise much, the volume you see is very little: and sithens I cannot bear out my folly by authority, like an emperor, I will crave
From the Greek, meaning well-groun, symmetrical, hence clever, rritly. It was really on the culmination of the growing influence of Italian conceits and quibbles.
pardon for my phrensy by submission, as your worship's to command.
History.- A whole class of industrious antiquaries collected the annals of the by-gone world, and embodied them in English shape, supplying materials for the historical dramatist and the future historian. Daniel gave to the chronicle a purer literary form, while Raleigh's History of the World showed the widening of historic interest beyond national bounds. If there was no rhyming, there was little accuracy, and no attempt at a minute tracing of cause and effect; that was to come. The compilers, following the beaten path, usually began at the Creation and continued to the date of publication. Credulity still darkened
nd, surveying it complacently, they gathered contentedly, with both hands, seldom doubting the truth of what from childhood they had been taught to believe. Thus Holinshed, the most complete of our chroniclers, thinks it probable that Britain was peopled before the Deluge, and supposes these primitive Britons to have been drowned in the flood. He can vouch for the arrival of Ulysses, inclines to the derivation of Albion from a huge giant of that name, and relates the story of Brute, the great-grandson of Æneas, with unquestioning confidence. He inserts a one-line notice of Caxton as the first practicer of the art of printing,' but is more intent in the same paragraph to speak of “a bloody rain, the red drops falling on the sheets which had been hanged to dry. It was reserved for Raleigh, in his unfinished but ambitious work, to strike into a virgin vein, and make the ordinary events of history assume new face by the noble speculations which he builds on them, often profound, oftener eloquent.
Theology. A new era of creed-formations set in. The Articles of the Anglican Church, now in number thirty-nine,